Committee advances bill that would help beginning farmers

By Tyler Arnold - The Center Square

COLUMBUS — An Ohio committee advanced legislation on Tuesday that would incentivize people to enter into the farm industry by providing tax subsidies on the transfer of farm property and assets to beginning farmers.

Under HB 183, a transaction would be eligible for the tax break if an established farmer sells or rents to a farmer with 10 years of experience or less and is participating in the financial management program. This includes renting or selling land, livestock, facilities or equipment.

The spending for these subsidies will be capped at $10 million. A bill substitution created a two-year sunset provision, which would halt the program in 2021. If the program runs successfully, the Legislature could then renew it. The previous bill had included a five-year sunset provision.

In its initial language, the legislation would have excluded transactions between family members, but a substitute adopted by the committee three weeks ago expanded the eligibility to those farmers because they are often multigenerational businesses.

The bill was drafted to incentivize younger people from getting involved in the farming industry and to incentivize older farmers to sell their land sooner to address the rising age of farmers in the state. According to a study by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, the average age for a farmer rose from 54.6 in 2012 to 55.8 in 2017.

Although high, Ohio’s average farming age is still lower than the national average, which is at 57.5. Other states have passed similar bills.

The House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee approved the substitution and the final bill unanimously.

By Tyler Arnold

The Center Square